Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Annuario Reale Ist. Bot. Roma 8: 184 (1904).
2n = 30
Origin and geographic distribution
Guizotia scabra has been found, usually at middle and higher elevations, in Nigeria, Cameroon, DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique. It has also been encountered in Yemen.
The young, tender leaves are eaten boiled in Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. In Ethiopia it is considered a famine crop, in Tanzania and Uganda it appears to be more acceptable. In Nigeria the leaves are eaten in soup and the seeds are pounded and eaten raw. In Ethiopia the seeds are used as a substitute for the seeds of the oil-seed crop Guizotia abyssinica (L.f.) Cass. and for ceremonial purposes. In Uganda the dry seeds are roasted and ground to make a paste that is mixed with green vegetables, peas or beans. A vegetable salt is made from the stems by burning, followed by purification.
The stem fibres are used in DR Congo for fishing-nets. The plant is reportedly grazed by livestock in Sudan but not in northern Kenya.
Medicinal uses have been reported from DR Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda. The leaves are used most frequently, but bark and roots are used as well. Among the human diseases and ailments treated with Guizotia scabra are: malaria, constipation, salmonella infection, ulcers, stomach-ache, dyspepsia, gastritis, enteritis, syphilis and gonorrhoea. In Uganda a root decoction is drunk to prevent miscarriage. In DR Congo Guizotia scabra has a wide range of veterinary applications against internal parasites (e.g. worms, amoebae), blood parasites (theileriosis or east coast fever, babesiosis) and external parasites (gadfly, botfly).
Erect, perennial, moderately branching herb up to 2 m tall. Leaves opposite, simple, sessile; blade narrowly lanceolate to broadly oblanceolate, 5.5–10.5 cm × 1–3 cm, base cuneate -cordate, apex acute, margin entire to serrate. Inflorescence a cup-shaped head 9–15 mm in diameter, with (5–)8 outer involucral leaves; ray florets 8–15, female, tube 1.5–2.5 mm long, ligule 11–14 mm × 2.5–4.5 mm; disk florets 50–90(–120), bisexual, tube 1–1.5 mm long, limb 2.5–3 mm long. Fruit an achene 2–2.5 mm long.
Guizotia comprises 6 or 7 species all of them distributed in the mountains of eastern Africa. The exception is Guizotia scabra, which is also found in the highlands of Nigeria and Cameroon. The taxonomic position of three closely related species is not yet fully clear. The wild, annual species Guizotia schimperi Sch.Bip. is considered the ancestor of the cultivated oil-seed crop Guizotia abyssinica. Guizotia scabra is distinguished from Guizotia schimperi by its perennial nature and the larger number of involucral leaves and ray and disk florets. Guizotia schimperi is, however, still considered by some taxonomists as a subspecies of Guizotia scabra. The huge variation observed in Guizotia scabra in the field, is attributed to a large extent to differences in growing conditions.
Guizotia scabra is found in a wide variety of soils. It has been encountered in swampy areas, wet and dry grassland, on stony hill slopes and as a ruderal. It flowers most abundantly shortly after the first rains, but flowers are found throughout the year. In Ethiopia Guizotia scabra is most common at 2500–3500 m altitude, whereas Guizotia schimperi is more frequent at 1500–2500 m. Germination is enhanced by burning.
Guizotia scabra is reportedly cultivated in Nigeria, Sudan and Ethiopia but no details have been published.
Genetic resources and breeding
Guizotia scabra is common throughout its range and not in danger of genetic erosion. It is not reproductively separated from Guizotia abyssinica; so hybrids can be obtained with ease. In germplasm collections only few accessions are kept, all of them from Ethiopia.
Guizotia scabra will probably remain a minor vegetable of limited importance. Gene transfer from Guizotia scabra to the cultivated Guizotia abyssinica may prove of interest in breeding programmes. Collection of germplasm throughout the area of distribution of Guizotia scabra is desirable. The wide range of diseases treated with Guizotia scabra warrants research into the medicinal and pharmacological properties, notably those of the leaves. That medicinal uses are really restricted to the Great Lakes Region needs confirmation.
• Baagøe, J., 1974. The genus Guizotia (Compositae). A taxonomic revision. Botanisk Tidsskrift 69(1): 1–39.
• Baerts, M. & Lehmann, J., 2002. Guizotia scabra. [Internet] A few medicinal plants used in traditional veterinary and human medicine in sub-saharan Africa. Laboratoire de Botanique Médicale de Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. http://fynu.ucl.ac.be/users/j.lehmann/plante_ang/Guizotia_scabra.html. Accessed 30 June 2003.
• Getinet, A. & Sharma, S.M., 1996. Niger: Guizotia abyssinica (L.f.) Cass. Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops 5. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, Italy. 59 pp.
• Katende, A.B., Ssegawa, P. & Birnie, A., 1999. Wild food plants and mushrooms of Uganda. Technical Handbook No 19. Regional Land Management Unit/SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 490 pp.
• Murthy, H.N., Hiremath, S.C. & Pyati, A.N., 1995. Genomic classification in Guizotia (Asteraceae). Cytologia 60: 67–73.
• Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.
• UN-EUE, 2001. Typical 'famine-food' plants. Guizotia scabra. [Internet] Famine food field guide. United Nations Emergency Unit for Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. http://www.africa.upenn.edu/faminefood/category1/cat1_Guizotia.htm. Accessed June 2003.
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Umali, B.E. & Yantasath, K., 2001. Guizotia abyssinica (L.f.) Cass. In: van der Vossen, H.A.M. & Umali, B.E. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 14. Vegetable oils and fats. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 97–101.
Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2004. Guizotia scabra (Vis.) Chiov. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.